‘Gravity Falls’ Finale: Creator Alex Hirsch Wraps ‘Crazy Experiment’ On His Own Terms (Exclusive Video)

Gravity Falls Disney XD
Courtesy of Disney XD

Disney XD is saying so long to its highest-rated series tonight with the hourlong finale of “Gravity Falls.”

In wrapping the animated series with its 40th episode, series creator/exec producer Alex Hirsch joins the growing list of showrunners afforded the luxury of setting their own end date.

The fact that Hirsch pulled it off with the first series he ever created speaks volumes about Disney’s faith in the animation wunderkind, now 30. “Gravity Falls” pushed boundaries big-time for Disney Channel and Disney XD as a highly serialized mystery-thriller that weaves an apocalyptic conspiracy story around the coming-of-age adventures of 12-year-old twins Mabel and Dipper Pines.

The brother and sister are sent to spend the summer with their great-uncle Stan, who runs a roadside attraction in a small town in Oregon where strange things happen. The show made the most of its animated format by peppering secret clues, codes and other Easter eggs into episodes to keep fans hunting for hints into the larger mythology.

The characters are loosely based on Hirsch and his own twin sister. He developed “Gravity Falls” with a specific story arc in mind, one that concludes tonight at 7 p.m. with “Weirdmageddon Part 3: Take Back the Falls.”

“From the very first I pitched the show as this thing that has only a few seasons — it has a beginning, middle and end. It’s one summer. There are just a few big questions that have answers, and once they’re answered, that’s it,” Hirsch said on Feb. 10 during a Q&A with voice cast members Jason Ritter (Dipper),  Kristen Schaal (Mabel) and Brad Joseph Breeck, composer of the show’s theme song.

“I don’t think anyone (at Disney) believed me but they said ‘Sure let’s give this a try,‘ ” Hirsch said. “I’m grateful to the channel for letting me tell the story the way I planned to tell it. … I think we’re in a different age of TV right now than that old classic million-season concept. I think audiences are craving different kinds of entertainment.”

At the outset, Hirsch was worried that the show’s conceit would be a hard sell with the Disney Channel/Disney XD kid demo. (“Gravity Falls” premiered in 2012 on Disney Channel and shifted to Disney XD in 2014). But he was proven wrong when the show became a hit thanks in part to its multigenerational appeal.

“Gravity Falls” was Disney XD’s most watched series last year across all target demos with an average of 1.8 million viewers per episode. In kids 6-11, it averaged 654,000 viewers and 790,000 in kids 2-11. Among boys 6-14 it pulled in 680,000. That’s a strong showing in Disney XD’s core demos but it also makes clear that older teens and young adults comprised more than half of the show’s audience.

The “Gravity Falls” hip quotient was reflected in the guest stars who provided voices for the show, a roster that includes Nathan Fillion, Jon Stewart, Louis C.K., Jonathan Banks, John Oliver, Patton Oswalt, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Weird Al Yankovic, Alfred Molina and Nick Offerman.

But being on Disney Channel and Disney XD meant that connecting with the pre-teen audience was of paramount importance. Hirsch has marveled at how passionately kids embraced the show in all its scary weirdness. He credits Disney with letting them push the envelope on the tone and the storylines. The finale finds Dipper and Mabel in a battle with the show’s arch-villain, Bill Cipher (who is shaped like the pyramid found on $1 bills) to save Gravity Falls (and by extension, the rest of the planet) from his evil domination.

During the run of the series, “I would keep daring everyone to tell me I had gone too far with scary stuff,” Hirsch said. But the audience went along for the ride. “Gravity Falls” has generated the kind of fanatical online following of decidedly more grown-up mystery dramas a la “Lost” or “The X-Files.” That kind of engagement also marked new territory for a Disney Channel/Disney XD series.

“You don’t have to sugar coat things for kids. If you make something for them with intelligence they will show that intelligence in ways that will sometimes shock you,” Hirsch said. “They understand we’re not being cruel. We’re creating something with stakes. No matter how scary we made it, they loved it.”

Beyond the thrills and chills, Hirsch and his core writers and producers — Robert Renzetti, Josh Weinstein, Mark Rizzo, Matt Chapman, Jeffrey Rowe, Shion Takeuchi and Michael Rianda — took care to build a deep emotional storyline for the central characters, one that resonated with its target audience. The twins’  supernatural summer adventures are also a vehicle for showing how they navigate the awkward transition into adolescence.

“Mabel is learning that she’s not going to be a kid forever — there’s a piece of her innocence that is lost,” Schaal said. “You’re going to lose a little piece of yourself in every phase of life. That’s a hard lesson to learn. The show eloquently draws that out” of the characters, Schaal said.

Hirsch and the other cast members were shocked at how quickly the show caught on. They were startled to see fans dressed as Mabel and Dipper at the show’s first appearance at Comic-Con in 2012, which came after only four episodes had aired. After a few more episodes aired, Hirsch was sent a fan-generated elaborate rap tribute to the show that chronicled every plot point in great detail.

“When I got that I thought ‘Oh my god, anything can happen’ if someone who is clearly an adult cares enough to make something like this,” Hirsch said.

Seeing the show through to its logical finale — the end of the twins’ wild summer vacation — is satisfying for Hirsch. With “Gravity Falls” wrapped, he’s graduated to a new phase of his career by recently signed a development deal for a new animated project with Fox.

Hirsch knows there’s an element of the fan base that would like to see the show continue. He allows that it’s “not inconceivable” that he would return to the Falls someday, and he hints that there are plot threads in the finale that could set up a future installment. But for now, it was time to take Mabel, Dipper and Grunkle-Stan out on a high note.

“I did this because I love the show. I didn’t want us to ever run out of mysteries. I didn’t want to see Mabel and Dipper have to set there in front of the TV and shrug,” he said. “For me it’s most important to do something that I believe in, something I’m proud of, something I can stand up and say ‘That was my plan’ rather than stretch it out.”

Although success came quickly to Hirsch on the heels of his graduation from CalArts — the art and design school that has long been a farm team for Disney — he recognizes his good fortune in having such a charmed experience with “Gravity Falls.”

“I tried a crazy experiment and the craziest thing is, they let me do it,” he said.

Here’s an exclusive video clip featuring “Gravity Falls” guest stars Nathan Fillion, Weird Al Yankovic, Alfred Molina and Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing their work on the show. Special thanks to the devotees at Disney’s D23 fan club for assistance with this report. 

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  1. daide says:

    I will wait even 20 years to see this show be revived again

  2. Hey guys, for anyone interested I made a little petition to try and grab the creators attention, any and all support would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

  3. Luke says:

    Please bring back the show in some way with some of the characters. One of the best written shows out there. Stuff on tv is so crappy lately, this was a nice respite. I think Hirsch is wrong, it’s not that people want quick over and done entertainment, it’s that the quality of the entertainment we see on tv as of late has no depth, so who cares if something goes quickly. This was not the case with Gravity Falls. Very disappointed the doesn’t want to continue something that taught great lessons, had tremendous humor, and told great stories. Thanks Hirsch for forcing us to watch all the other cluttered garbage on tv!

  4. Aidan Shea says:

    U can’t stop dis show. I cried so much when it ended. Best show ever in the history of ever. U have to continue! Ive been trying to find a way to send u a message personally so that u will for sure see that this series must go on!!!! If u do not make more I will strive to become someone who can take over the show and make more. I will if no more are made! Two seasons aren’t enough. 4 seasons maybe, 5 would be gud. But it needs to continue. And like x files, they canceled there series after so so so long, they had a series finally, and then they brought it back! Look how popular it is!!! And its like 230 episodes! There is so much potential for this to stay up there as the best show ever even if u go to twenty seasons! Mythbusters is an awesome show! There past 250 episodes, and sure there ending there series, but that’s because its been running for eleven or so years! And its still popular. And I understand they aren’t cartoons, but this series for sure beats anything I’ve ever watched, ever. It must go on. I would personally say that if I could I would promise u that if u continued this show, you would have every viewer u have now, stay loyal to the show for another ten seasons or more… and if u didn’t I would pay u all the money u spent on the production of those ten more seasons plus however much more u wanted. Now, I can’t actually do that cause I’m thirteen, but if I had enough money I would promise u that.

    The show has to continue!

    Forever loyal to Bill Cipher and all who opposed him.

  5. DatGuyEvan says:

    In weirdmagadon part 1, there is a seen were they are in the weirdness bubbles and they become anime. Think that is an awesome idea and could totally get behind a Gravity Falls anime, or at least get Alex to direct an anime cause we can see that he is good at making likeable characters and an almost completely unique style

  6. Mags Edgell says:

    Gravity Falls is my favirote show plz do another episode I mean it’s so popular I cryed durin the last few episodes

  7. BAM says:

    This is the first time I’ve literally gotten emotional about the series finale of a cartoon! My son and I have been faithful viewers since episode 1. What a refreshing change to the animated world, which, in my opinion, hasn’t been good since Scooby Doo (ok, aside from P&F and the Simpsons). Please bring Mabel, Dipper, Grunkle-Stan, Wendy, and Robbie (gotta love Robbie!) back in the not-too-distant future.

  8. Toongirl says:

    Hey Alex, hope now that the series is over it’s OK to bring this up.

    GF is known for hiding eyes & triangles in the backgrounds but the REAL hidden-in-plain-sight symbols are deltas (Gideon’s Mabel picspam on his door, Stanford’s defensive weapon, the alien security bubble, the GF Museum angel engraving) & diamonds (windows, the Shack home door, the trailer lamps, the NW’s mansion’s stained glass window that Dipper & Pacifica break thru).

    So my question is, if it’s safe to see Bill as the male principle gone psycho, then are the hidden deltas the female principle & the diamond shapes a sort of yin/yang symbol for the series? Bill does seem to be more concerned about ‘Shooting Star’ than “Mabel’s brother” when he confronts them. (Going deep here, I know…)

  9. Nallely Tadeo says:

    Alex gravity falls was my number 1 tv show of all time thank you for this show and hopefully you make a third season anyway i was crying though out the whole episode that my mom and big sister were worried

  10. Alex says:

    Series endings really don’t get much better than this. I loved all that foreshadowing of some huge zodiac connecting all the main characters, and then they just completely drop it in favor of a real, genuine character resolution between the two adult Pines twins

  11. childwithin says:

    Best Disney cartoon ever, please don’t end it yet.

  12. cg says:

    Gravity falls, one of the best tv cartoons I’ve seen so far. It would be nice if Dipper and Mabel could go back to Gravity falls next summer. Thank you for the mysteries and adventures and please bring Gravity falls back. ☺

  13. Chance says:

    The politically-correct insertion of the gay cop couple felt both icky and forced, but my kids just said “ew, creepy” and shrugged it off, so no harm done, and we all enjoyed the finale. Good work, Hirsch.

    • Noah says:

      Definitely glad you liked the finale, but I wanted to point out that disgust is the most dangerous and dehumanizing emotion, so it’s a little concerning that you seem to approve of your kids’ reaction of “ew, creepy” to two men saying they love each other. There’s scientific evidence that disgust can be particularly dangerous in a courtroom situation (for instance, how might your kids instinctively react if they were on a jury prosecuting a gay man for alleged sexual assault?), which by extension could make real, horrible impacts on an actual person’s life, like landing them in prison wrongfully. But that’s only one concrete example. Disgust, or “icky”, is the emotion that made white people want to separate themselves from black people, and back in Jesus’ day, healthy people from sick lepers.

      Kids’ minds in general don’t naturally jump to sex, which is likely the reason you think gay men are icky (or at least their portrayals in kids’ shows). This means that all the kids know is that men saying they love each other is “creepy”, which does nothing but reinforce the idea that men can’t show affection towards each other—which used to be not only normal, but often portrayed as admirable (think of old war movies where a soldier cries with a dying mate, kisses his forehead, holds him tightly during his final moments). By encouraging your children to say “ew, creepy” in a situation like this, you are not only imbuing a habit of disgust into them in reaction to gay couples, but also helping make platonic affection between males taboo, which has a whole range of negative side effects later on in life for men, like emotional isolation (especially from, say, their father) and unhealthy reliance on the the women they date/marry to satisfy their emotional needs.

      I don’t want to be that jerk who lectures you on how to raise your children, but I can’t help but think about the amount of people (including myself) who have been hurt or worse by a bit of seemingly innocent disgust. My hope is that maybe next time you’ll be a bit more conscientious of the real-world consequences, and perhaps even try to re-evaluate your own ideas of what (or more importantly, who) is “icky”.

      If you read all the way through this, thanks for hearing me out, and sorry about being such a downer. Glad you and your kids liked the show though, it’s full of messages that kids need to hear and has some of my all-time favorite characters on TV or any other medium. Also anyone who watches cartoons with their kids is a hero in my book.

    • Ford says:

      Or it could just the a normal couple just played for humorous effect. They were shown to have had a deep affection for one another from the beginning. It’s no more pandering than Stan have a twin brother. Both are things that many fans predicted and hoped for given past data and clues, their existence is just part of the story. If you didn’t like that then you probably shouldn’t watch Legend of Korra as it has something that you’d probably consider icky and forced too. Get with the times, gay couples are becoming more and more common and thats a good thing.

    • Alex says:

      Um, yes, that’s exactly what political correctness is. Taking a character arc to its natural conclusion after heavy foreshadowing.

  14. Darion says:

    Dude I just watched a whole weekends worth of the falls and although I’ve been watching faithfully since the first day of summer I was crying my eyes out. Please let them go back for their next summer. They have to be there before Wendy leaves for college and has to realize 3 years isn’t a big gap. I want to see more of Grenda, candy, soos, Robby,etc I love the falls and it broke my heart it ended. Hopefully giddeon becomes more mature and who knows maybe mabel will be following him all summer. Alex dude you can never run out of mysteries. Like what if stand some how remembers bill and unleashes him mabel broke the memory remover gun. This is the best show I’ve ever seen and I grew up in the 90’s.

  15. None of your bizzz says:

    Um i dont know dippers real name. Can somebody mind telling me. Its the only question not answered i think

  16. None of your bizzz says:

    I loved the series finale. It really answered every question that the series brought up. I personally can say this is the best disney series that was and ever will be created. I hope theres a third season or at least one episode of when dipper and mabel are older

  17. None of your bizzz says:

    I love gravity falls. I just watched the finale and i almost cried. I really hope theres a season for their next summer but if not i still think this was the best disney show ever created. I want to see dipper and mabel all grown up.

  18. Abhishek says:

    Just i f anyone was wondering, those anomalies they saw were mentioned before. Earlier in the show, you can see on a journal page that Time Baby is frozen in the polar ice caps but will break out due to global warming. The anomalies are Time Baby.

  19. Leland says:

    I’m crying so much why Alex why must you end it my eyes are still tearing up. And it’s 9:05

  20. Leland says:

    I’m crying so much why Alex why must you end it😭😭😭😭

  21. Neptuna says:

    I just finished watching the finale episode. I was crying for the last ten minutes of it.
    But the note that Dipper received…..
    Does that means there will be a sequal series?

  22. Soos says:

    As an older audience member, I’m really sad to see this show go. It was one of the few shows left on Disney that isn’t completely stupid. Hopefully Hirsch will come up with a new show (:

  23. Cezond says:

    Don’t you dare stop this series it’s so successful and funny exciting and awesome it’s horrible that the series has come to a end plz do more seasons

    • Debra woodard says:

      I just want you to know that my 11 yr old grand son is not happy about this ending he just told me I’m a big ( Hugh ) fan and anything that involves gravity falls he has it .you must continue he said Nanna I no there r kids cryin he said I hate this .he really is upset over this coming to an end I’m just going to go take a shower and cry about this

  24. Gravity says:

    My 13 yr old is quite upset that this show has come to an end. He feels like part of his childhood is gone. This was one show that he watched with his older brother and father. They all loved it.

  25. J Brunswick says:

    Gravity Falls will be missed. Our 6 year old loved it and my wife and I enjoyed the finale as well. Kids need more cartoons like this one.

  26. A person says:

    I think that there will be more because the note said : See you next Summer
    And they found more weird Anomalies.

  27. You don't need to know my name says:

    Take the letter from Wendy at the end as foreshadowing…

  28. conner hartzell says:

    Please add more series PLEASE!

  29. Theresa Krihwan says:

    We need season 3 of gravity falls
    Maybe a different network

  30. Derpykid03 says:

    No Dont end it you need to make one for their next summer!

  31. Andrew says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!-!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Webber says:

    Gravity Falls is one of the best shows that Disney has to offer to kids and even teens. It is sad to see this show end considering the garbage that my kids are left with on Disney and even Nick. They teach nothing but rude, disrespectful, and downright stupid behaviors to youth. The ingnorant and completely obnoxious writing of these shows is just bad. Feel free to insert in your lame laughtrack disney, Nick, and Family Channel… (free form- ughh). Bros before dinos!!

    • The end of Gravity Falls doesn’t mean the last good modern cartoons. Nickelodeon has TMNT, Miraculous Ladybug, and Harvey Beaks which I think your kids would love if you haven’t seen it. Carton-network has We Bear Bears, Sonic Boom, Steven Universe, etc. And Disney still has Wonder over Yonder and Star vs. Forces of Evil, and then the Hub has Friendship is Magic.

      • Maggey says:

        Miraculous Ladybug?! That show is utter garbage as well. Harvey Beaks and Sonic Boom are no better. Pretty graphics won’t match up to a reasonable plot. Give me a break. Get a functioning sense of taste.

  33. Respect to Hirsch for ending this on his own terms. Even though we all love Gravity Falls, let’s toughen up for the last episode. Be prepared.

  34. Bryan says:

    I think Stanford or Stanley will die b/c on the sock puppet show stan caught on fire and on the hot air ballon stan caught on fire and on the wax stans wax got his head chopped off

    • Gravity Falls Enthusiast says:

      The significance of Wax Stan’s head getting chopped off was a really, REALLY early hint to Stan having a twin brother. The reason that Stanley was so depressed when the wax figured was murdered was because he pictured it as Stanford. He was broken- he’d lost his brother again.
      Luckily both of them made it out safely in the finale. :’)

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